Walk In Power

One of the things we forget as believers is that the Holy Spirit lives in us. 1 John 4:4 says that He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world. God is all powerful and He not only lives in us, but He gives His power and authority to us as well. It’s time you and I started walking in that authority and power. We have victory in Jesus! We have authority in Jesus! We are not defeated. We will overcome because He has given us that power. We can face any situation with confidence because He lives in us and is greater than anything we face. Going forward, we need to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

Here are some Bible verses on the power you’ve been given.

1. But he answered me, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 TPT

2. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].

2 Timothy 1:7 AMP

3. I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.

Philippians 4:13 GNT

4. But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.

Acts 1:8 AMP

5. A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

Ephesians 6:10 NLT

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Nothing Is Too Difficult

When my mom was in the final stages of her life, she was in the ICU at M. D. Anderson hospital. On one particular day, I got to spend the whole day with her. She must have seen the worry on my face because she said, “There’s nothing too hard for God you know.” She then spent the next few hours telling me of all the times in her life that God came through in impossible situations. She then said, “I have no doubt that God knows what He’s doing. I have peace in whatever He chooses.”

That day was one final lesson from her that God is in control, and that there’s nothing He can’t do. Just because she didn’t walk out of that hospital completely healed and cancer free, doesn’t mean that God’s doesn’t have the ability to heal. For whatever reason, He didn’t heal her the way we were praying. She knew that was a possibility so she reminded me, and herself, of all the times God had performed miracles in her life.

I don’t know why God answers some prayers and not others. I don’t know why He shows off in great form in some instances and not in others. What I do know is that He has the ability to. Jeremiah felt the same way. He was locked up while Jerusalem was under siege for prophesying that Jerusalem would be under siege and lost the battle. While He was in prison, God told him that his cousin would come sell him some land. I’m sure Jeremiah laughed. Why would someone in prison need to buy land? Because God was going to do the impossible and set him free one day and return him from captivity.

When the deal was done, in Jeremiah 32:17 , he prayed, “Sovereign Lord, you made the earth and the sky by your great power and might; nothing is too difficult for you” (GNT). He reminded himself, like my mom did, that there’s no situation too hard for God to intervene in. There no whole so deep that He can’t pull you out of. There’s no sickness too far spread that He can’t heal. There’s no life so far gone that He can’t rescue. Whatever you’re facing today, know that there’s nothing too difficult for God to handle.

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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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Be Faithful Now

My wife and I watched History Channel’s “Men Who Built America”. The show discusses several titans of industry during Reconstruction after the Civil War up to the early 1900’s. It was incredible to see what these men did and how they operated. It was also eye opening how they would do anything to make money. Because of them, we have a lot of the labor and antitrust laws. They were often ruthless in their pursuit, but two men changed their tune as they got older and began trying to make a difference by give away their fortune to philanthropic causes and charities. J.P. Morgan gave away around $900 million in today’s money and John D. Rockefeller gave away around $540 million. To this day their philanthropic causes live on.

In Luke 16, Jesus told the story of a rich man who had a manager of his affairs. It turned out the manager was wasting the money so the rich man called him to account. The guy was afraid of being unemployed and didn’t want to beg so he cut what each person owed with all of his boss’s debtors. He figured he would make friends before he left so that he would have a place to land. The boss was impressed with how shrewd he was. Then in verse 9, Jesus said, “Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home” (NLT). While Jesus doesn’t discourage us from being rich or making money, He does encourage us to give and make a difference with what we have.

In the next two verses Jesus continued, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?” Sometimes we think we need to be rich to make a difference or to give, but this verse clearly tells us to be faithful with what we have, even if it’s a little. Many of us pursue more money and better jobs, but how can we handle that if we’re not making a difference with what we have. The same is true with our spiritual gifts. Many people look for ministries that are in the spotlight or get lots of attention, but God is looking to see if we can be faithful when no one sees. When we are faithful with a little, He trusts us with a lot.

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Trusting God’s Truth

Sometimes we confuse the facts with the truth and we start to believe the wrong thing. A fact is simply a subset or fraction of what the truth is. They’re like a piece of the puzzle, but they don’t show the whole picture. They can tell us what’s going on in that moment of our life, but the truth is that a momentary situation in our life doesn’t define who we are. This is important because our enemy uses facts against us like a lawyer to destroy our faith and trust in what God is doing, or going to do, in our lives. He uses facts to distract us and to try to disqualify us from God’s promises. He tried to use facts against Jesus while tempting Him, but each time Jesus countered with the truth of God’s Word.

In Genesis 15, the fact is that Abram and Sarai were barren and couldn’t have children. The truth was that God had already promised Abram that he would be the father of many nations. The facts were that they were too old to conceive, but the truth was that God was still moving on their behalf. Even Abram had trouble believing the truth. In verse 2 he prayed, “But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth” (NLT). Then God reaffirmed the truth that he would have a son and many descendants. Verse 6 tells us that Abram believed the Lord and it was counted as righteousness because he trusted the truth over facts.

In John 8:31 Jesus said, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” What facts have you been believing over God’s truth? Facts have a way of binding us up and preventing us from being free. Today, I want you to start believing and trusting in God’s truth instead of the facts your current situation is telling you. If God has promised it, no facts can ever stop it. Be free from their grip on you today. Say out loud that you believe God’s truth. Repeat out loud what God’s promise is to you. Quit quoting facts and start confessing God’s truth. We must be like Abram where we believe despite what our current situation is telling us. God counts that kind of faith as righteousness. When we do, He blesses us and sets us free.

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Seeking The Reward

Our brains are wired to seek rewards. Seeking and obtaining these rewards create habits in our lives. When you wake up, if you have the habit of hitting the snooze button, your brain has been conditioned to seek the reward of nine more minutes of sleep. If you love working out, your brain loves the endorphins that are released and how your body will look. Scientists have observed the brain during these activities and see what they’ve nicknamed the pleasure center of the brain light up when it gets the reward. It gets addicted to that feeling which makes habits hard to break. If you want to change a habit, don’t just take away the reward, create a reward for the new habit.

Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, endured some pretty harsh things. He was beaten several times within an inch of his life. He was sent to prison, rejected, stoned, attacked, shipwrecked and more for his faith. How did he keep going? He found a way to let his brain know that there was a reward in Heaven coming. In Philippians 3:10-11 he explained his reward by writing, “And this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did]; so that I may attain to the resurrection [that will raise me] from the dead” (AMP). He always looked for the reward in becoming more like Christ and being with Him one day.

Jesus set out a reward for us too. In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said, “But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.” If you look at what you’ve been seeking after instead of God’s kingdom, you will see the reward your brain is after. Jesus is offering us a greater reward by seeking Him first. Like Paul, we need to retire our brains, by allowing our minds to be transformed (Romans 12:2). When we put His needs ahead of our own, He rewards us with becoming more like Him and by taking care of all these things that cause us to worry.

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Time To Reevaluate

Do you know what happens when you neglect a plant? What about a yard? A house? A relationship? Things that get neglected usually die, become unhealthy or get rundown. Most of us live such busy lives that we can’t juggle everything. That means that something begins to get neglected. The Bible mentions several things that we need to make sure we don’t neglect. In fact, we need to make sure we bring life to these things, care for them and develop them so that they can grow, become healthy and get strong. If you’ve begun to neglect these or relationships in your life, it may be time to reevaluate everything on your plate. You may even have to sacrifice some things so that you can tend to what matters most.

Here are some Bible verses on things you shouldn’t neglect.

1. Give respect to your father and mother, for without them you wouldn’t even be here. And don’t neglect them when they grow old.

Proverbs 23:22 TPT

2. Do not neglect to do good, to contribute [to the needy of the church as an expression of fellowship], for such sacrifices are always pleasing to God.

Hebrews 13:16 AMP

3. Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you.

1 Timothy 4:14 NLT

4. This is not the time to pull away and neglect meeting together, as some have formed the habit of doing. In fact, we should come together even more frequently, eager to encourage and urge each other onward as we anticipate that day dawning.

Hebrews 10:25 TPT

5. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Hebrews 13:2 ESV

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God Listens

Have you ever been talking to someone only to figure out they were only looking at you, but not listening? It’s frustrating. You’re going through the emotions that you feel, describing each detail to them and they aren’t even paying attention. Would you go back to that person the next time you needed the support of a listening ear? No! You wanted someone to listen and to help you, and they weren’t even giving you the respect of listening.

Have you ever felt like God was that way? Have you felt like you poured out your heart to Him in prayer, but it was like He wasn’t listening? It’s frustrating to be in prayer and to feel like your prayers aren’t escaping the room you’re in. Maybe you’ve tried praying louder or just sat there weeping in that place crying out to God for mercy. In any case, God is not like us. He does not have selective hearing. He hears every prayer, even those that seem to fall flat on the floor.

In Psalm 116:1-2, the Psalmist wrote, “I love the Lord, because he hears me; he listens to my prayers. He listens to me every time I call to him” (GNT). God hears every prayer you’ve ever prayed from the silent ones that you could barely muster the energy to say to the loud “can you hear me” prayers. When you and I pour out our heart before God, we have a guarantee that He hears us and listens to us.

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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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Using Your Shield

When you watch a film or read about ancient battles, people usually had two things with them, a sword and a shield. Hand to hand combat was the norm. With one hand they attacked in order to advance, with the other they defended from the bows of their enemy. Shields came in all sizes too. One of the things I think is important to note is that when a shield got struck, the person carrying it felt the weight of the blow. They save your life and protect you from most or all of the damage, but not the pressure. As you hold that shield, you have to exert pressure back toward your opponent so that you’re not overcome.

In the book of Nehemiah, a small group of Jews were rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem to create a shield from their enemies. While building the wall, their enemies tried to persuade them to quit building it. When that failed, they tried intimidation. In chapter 4, the Bible says that Nehemiah had half of the people continue their work on the wall and the other half stand ready for battle protecting the work. They carried swords and shields. The situation was tense. Everyone felt the pressure, but they continued to work. Their enemies saw the swords and shields and chose not to attack. They knew their plans would be thwarted.

Psalm 84:11 says, “The Lord God is a sword and shield” (AMP). Later, Psalm 119:114 says, “You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope” (NLT). You and I are constantly entrenched in battles because our enemy wants to stop our progress. He tries to intimidate us into stopping, but the Lord is our shield. You’re going to feel pressure in the battle. You’re going to grow tired as well, but stay in God’s Word during those times. As this verse says, the Bible is a source of hope for us when all seems lost. God is fighting for you and protecting you as you continue to do what He called you to. Don’t let the pressure get to you. Find someone who will stand on the wall with you in prayer holding their sword and shield. It won’t be easy to complete, but with God as your shield you can continue.

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The Great I Am

I’ve grown up hearing the different names of God in church. I’ve even been to churches where they’ve had banners up proclaiming those names in bright colors with beautiful artwork. Jehovah Jireh my provider. Jehovah Rapha my healer. Jehovah Nissi my banner of victory. The Old Testament people would write a descriptive name for God after He did something miraculous for them. It was a way to remember and share with others that God could do anything they needed. When the writers of the Old Testament recorded these names, these names endured for generations giving hope and encouragement along the way. These names are ways for you and I to use as we pray and believe.

There was one name though that God gave Himself that was always tough for me to understand growing up. In Exodus, as God was speaking to Moses through the burning bush, Moses began to disqualify himself from God’s calling. He started giving God excuses as well as to why he couldn’t lead Israel out of Egypt. He didn’t think they would believe him if he told them God sent him. He wanted to know what name he was supposed to tell them if they asked what His name was. God responded, “I Am that I Am”. I always wondered if Moses was as confused as I was until I began to learn what that meant. God was saying He is who we need Him to be and will be who we need Him to be as the other names suggest. In this case, He would be their deliverer.

Jesus used that same phrase many times. “I Am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6) telling us why He came. He also said, “I Am the Bread of Life” (John 6:41) revealing He is our sustainer. In John 8:12 He said, “I Am the Light of the World” letting us know that we have light in our darkest times. He told the disciples, “I Am the Gate for the sheep” (John 10:7) to encourage us that nothing can get to us without passing through Him. He also said in John 10:14, “I Am the Good Shepherd” meaning He would lead us and guide us. When Lazarus died, He said, “I Am the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25) to prove He has power over death. Finally, He said, “I Am the True Vine” (John 15:1) to tell us that if we remain attached to Him, He will be our source. God is who you need Him to be in this very moment. Call out to Him and ask Him to be who you need Him to be. He has not forsaken you, forgotten you or abandoned you. Call out to Him today. He is the Great I Am.

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Valuing The Person

At the first writer’s conference I went to, they had a contest. We each got to submit a book idea and a publishing company would choose a winner, give them money and publish their book. All of us were hoping our idea would win at the end of the conference. One of the first few speakers, who had multiple books published, spoke on knowing our worth. She wanted to let us know that our worth is not defined by a book deal. She also let us know the importance of valuing the person reading your words. It was a good reminder that so many of us think our worth is tied to our accomplishments, what others think of us or even what we think of ourselves. Also, how we value someone affects how they see their worth.

John 8 tells the story of a woman caught in adultery. A group of religious leaders brought her to Jesus and they were ready to kill her by throwing stones at her. They didn’t see her worth, but Jesus did when asked about their right to kill her for her sin, Jesus told them that the first one who didn’t deserve the same should throw the first rock. One by one they left. In that moment, I believe she began to know her worth because Jesus valued her life. He knew the price He was about to pay for her sins (ours too). He determined our worth by paying such a high price for us. It’s important that we see that in ourselves and in others.

Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “Therefore become imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]; and walk continually in love [that is, value one another—practice empathy and compassion, unselfishly seeking the best for others], just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God [slain for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance” (AMP). We are to imitate Jesus in valuing others. We must look past their sins or flaws to see the image of God in them. When we value them, we raise their awareness of how much they’re worth. While a person’s worth never changes, how they value themselves does. Do your part as a Christian in helping to raise that valuation.

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