The Power Of The Word

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Fixing Our Brokenness

My son is very interested in bells. He loves learning about them and watching them ring. When we went on vacation, he found a porcelain bell and wanted to get it. I tried to talk him into one of the metallic bells, but they weren’t as pretty. When we got home, my fears were confirmed as I unwrapped the porcelain bell. It was broken. I didn’t have the heart to tell him what had happened and I hoped he wouldn’t ask for it.

I went to the store and bought some gorilla glue. Before we left for school, I ran back into my room and glued it back together. When I got home, I went to check on it. The glue left a white streak all the way around it. When I tried to make it ring, it didn’t sound like it had. I was disappointed in my ability to try to put it back together. In my effort to fix it, I was hoping to make it as good as new, but I couldn’t.

Because of Adam and Eve’s sin, you and I are born broken. We spend a lifetime trying to compensate for our brokenness, and we do everything that we can to fix or cover up our brokenness. The problem with fixing things like brokenness is that we never return to our initial potential. We think we need to be fixed, but the truth is that we need to be healed. We need to be made whole, and only God can do that.

Isaiah 9:6 contains one of the most famous prophesies of Jesus. It says, “For a child has been born—for us! the gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings” (MSG). I love that God’s desire wasn’t to fix us. It was to make us whole. He knows that each of us are broken, and He sent His Son to bring the healing that we desperately need.

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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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Follow The Process

I recently used a program to lose weight. After one day of following the rules and eating healthy, I stepped on the scale to see my progress. No change. The first thought to come to mind is, “This stuff doesn’t work!” It’s funny because I didn’t gain weight over night, but somehow my mind thinks that if I eat right for one day, I should have dramatic improvement. My coach encouraged me to continue following the process and to stock with it. Each day, I stepped on the scale to check my progress though. Some days I lost weight, others I stayed the same. The coach reminded me that weight loss shows up in more than the scale. Even though it didn’t show it, my measurements were shrinking. He encouraged me to continue to be patient and to follow the process. After following the process for a couple of months, I saw the progress I was looking for.

God has processes too. In 1 Samuel 16, David was anointed as king of Israel, but he wasn’t ready to be king. God had a process for him to follow first. For much of that process, David was on the run from the current king, Saul. There were several times that David had the opportunity to skirt the process and to kill Saul. David didn’t listen to the voices around him trying to get him to kill Saul though. One instance was in 1 Samuel 26. Abishai and David snuck up on Saul while he was sleeping, and his spear was right beside him. Abishai thought God had delivered Saul to David. In verse 10 David replied, “I know that the Lord himself will kill Saul, either when his time comes to die a natural death or when he dies in battle” (GNT). David wasn’t willing to skip the process no matter how long it took. He was willing to wait for Saul to die naturally.

I’ve learned that the greater the calling you have, the longer the process is. David had to wait 15 years to be king. Just like David, we must be patient in the process and trust it. Philippians 1:6 says, “And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus.” What God has started in you will be completed. It may seem like things are going slow or there’s no progress, and at times that you’re going backwards, but God is working. A lot of what God does in the process can’t be measured. Like David, we need to be patient. If God called you to it, He will fulfill it in His time. Be faithful in what seems like the little things (Luke 16:10). Don’t despise small beginnings either (Zechariah 4:10). God will be faithful to complete what He began in you. Just take the process one step and one day at a time.

Photo by Jordan Donaldson | @jordi.d on Unsplash

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Inviting God To Fight

Each day at recess, my son’s fourth grade class heads to the playground. There’s a group of boys in the class who head straight for the basketball court. All these boys are under five feet tall, and most dribble the basketball while looking at it. They’re in the beginning stages of learning the game. Imagine if one day my son asked me to play on his team. I’m a foot taller than all the kids and my skills are better than all of theirs combined. It wouldn’t be fair. It would look like that Geico commercial where they had Jerome Bettis playing flag football. It’s a funny to watch, and fun if you were the team who had him. Each play they just handed him the ball while he dragged the other team down the field.

You and I fight battles all the time, but we keep our star player on the sidelines trying to fight them ourselves. Many times we’re overcome and even overtaken in our battles. We go back to God in tears asking why would He allow us to be defeated. Sometimes we even blame Him for the things going on in our lives, but the thing we fail to do in a lot of those situations is to call on Him to come fight our battles for us. We’ve got the, “I can do this” mentality, which is what God tried to move Israel away from in the Old Testament. God whittled down Gideon’s army down to 300 men to fight against over 100,000. He was showing that the battle is the Lord’s, not ours, and when we invite Him to fight on our behalf, it doesn’t matter what the odds are, we will win.

Psalm 56:9 says, “The very moment I call to you for a father’s help the tide of battle turns and my enemies flee. This one thing I know: God is on my side!” (TPT) The tide of your battle will turn when you call for God’s help. He will fight for you, and if God is for you, who can be against you (Romans 8:31)? Yes, inviting God into your battle creates an unfair advantage, but it’s something we are offered as His children. Don’t wait until the battle is over, call on Him today to come and fight on your behalf. Victory may not look like you think it should, but we are assured of victory when God is on our side. Don’t give up in your battle. Keep fighting the good fight, and invite God to come fight for you. Don’t keep Him on the sidelines.

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Maximizing Your Gifts

One of the first talents I realized I had was the ability to memorize. It was pretty cool as a young kid. By the time I was in high school, I could study for a test from my locker to the classroom and ace the test. I began to hear words like, “No fair, I hate you for that and not cool.” When I started working, I again used it to gain a competitive advantage in sales. In one role, I had to take certifications. We would all fly to one city on a Sunday night for the test on Monday morning. Anything less than 95% was considered failing and there was a lot of pressure on these tests. I began to pretend to be stressed like everyone else. No one would go out to eat because they’d be up all night studying. I used to pretend to go to my room too to study. I’d wait about ten minutes then head out to a nice dinner. I allowed the people around me to make me feel like I had to minimize my gift.

I love Romans 12 because it talks about the different gifts God gives us. Verse 6 says, “God’s marvelous grace imparts to each one of us varying gifts” (TPT). I also love that it says the He gives each one of us gifts. That includes you. Don’t believe me? It’s repeated in Ephesians 4:7. It says, “However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ” (NLT). The problem most of us face is that we’ve spent a lifetime minimizing our gifts because of what other people think. For some, we’ve suppressed them so long, we may have even forgotten we had them. However, it is still in you, a more than likely just needs to be stirred up to be reactivated (2 Timothy 1:6). Because of your gifts, God has specific purposes and plans for you.

Timothy must have been facing the same pressure as a young minister. In 1 Timothy 4:12, he reminded him to not let anyone look down on him because of his age. He went on to say in verse 14, “Don’t minimize the powerful gift that operates in your life” (TPT). Timothy like us was tempted to minimize his gifts because of what other people thought or said. Just like Timothy, you and I need to not let others look down on us or minimize the gifts. Choose to worry about what God think rather than others. Use the gifts God has given you to make a difference where you are. When we minimize the gifts we’ve been given, we’re like the man who buried his talent in the sand. Instead, be like the ones who took their talents, invested in them, used them and doubled them. The more you utilize them, the greater impact you will have.

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Time For Hope

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The Olive Tree

One of the cool things we got to see on our trip to Israel was the Garden of Gethsemane. It was at the foot of the Mount of Olives just outside of the Old City of Jerusalem. In the garden were several olive trees. The picture you see is one that I took of them. They were huge and were centuries old. These trees have survived droughts, earthquakes, and people taking parts of them because of the significance of where they’re planted. Even with all that, they still produce olives to this day.

In Psalm 52:8, David said, “But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love” (NLT). David understood that if he planted himself in God’s house, watered himself with God’s Word, and allowed himself to be cared for by God, he would thrive and produce fruit all the days of his life. He would be able to survive what life threw at him.

We all go through spiritual droughts, have our world shaken, and even have people pick us apart. The question is, “Where are you planted?” Are you planted in the fertile soil of God’s Word? If we want to thrive, even in the toughest times, we must plant ourselves, like David, in God’s house and trust in Him. He will care for you and cause you to keep producing long after everyone else thinks you’re done.

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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Forgiven To Forgive

There was a guy that I knew in my teens that I didn’t like much. He did things at other people’s expense, was cocky and rude. Then, about ten years ago, I got a friend request from him. I accepted it skeptically. He started posting ministry photos and such. In my heart I thought, “What’s his angle? Who is he trying to fool?” I questioned his motives every time I saw him talk about Jesus or a photo of the work He was doing for the Kingdom. I even showed my wife the photos and told her about him. As I was scoffing one night, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and asked, “Do I hold your past against you? How can you hold someone else’s past against them when I’ve forgiven them?” I had to let it go and forgive him. I even called him to discuss it with him and ask his forgiveness.

When I think of stories of someone forgiving a serious wrong, I think of Jacob and Esau in Genesis 32. Jacob stole his brothers blessing and took advantage of him in a desperate situation to get his birthright. Esau was so angry that he wanted to kill his brother. Jacob left town and disappeared for years. When it was time to come home, there was fear in the back of his mind about what Esau would do to him. Instead of being angry, Esau ran to embrace him. He had forgiven him long before, but never had the opportunity to express it. Jacob was still unsure and didn’t trust his brother, but ultimately accepted his forgiveness. I’m not sure when Esau decided to forgive Jacob, but when he did, a huge burden had to have been lifted.

Ephesians 4:32 instructs us, “But instead be kind and affectionate toward one another. Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another in the depths of Christ’s love” (TPT). One of the hardest things we have to do as Christians is to forgive someone who wronged us. We’re not God so we can’t see their heart to see if they’ve changed, but even still we’re told to forgive as Christ has forgiven us. Forgiveness is truly a key that opens the door and releases us more than them. It may not restore the relationship (some don’t need to be reconciled), but it will open us up to allow God to repair the emotional scars that were left behind. It doesn’t happen right away, but the healing can’t begin in our own life until we forgive. If you’re struggling to forgive someone, ask God to help you with that. Forgiveness is His specialty.

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Casual Christianity

When I was a teen, we used to sing a Degarmo and Key song called, “Casual Christian”. The chorus went, “I don’t want to be a casual Christian. I don’t want to live, I don’t want to live a lukewarm life. ‘Cause I want to light up the night, with an everlasting light. I don’t want to live a casual Christian life.” Those words always resonated with me. As we would sing it, I would make it my prayer to give God my all. I didn’t want to be someone who went to church on Sunday, and lived like I wanted Monday through Saturday. I understood that it wasn’t by works that I was saved, but I didn’t want to live a life full of sin so that grace would abound. I wasn’t always sure what a casual Christian was, but that’s what I pictured in my head.

As I was reading the book of Ruth, I began to look at both Ruth and her sister in law Orpah. Naomi, who had been living in Moab because of a famine, decided to return to Israel after her husband and two sons had died. She and her two daughters in law were packed up when Naomi decided to tell them to stay. They all cried and both women decided to go with Naomi, but Naomi made one more plea. Orpah agreed to go back to her family, but Ruth insisted on going to Israel. In Ruth 1:16 she famously replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God” (NLT). As I read that, I started to wonder if these two daughters in law represented a sold out Christian and a casual Christian.

Both wanted to go with Naomi, but one was enticed to stay where she was comfortable and felt at home. The other was willing to change everything about her life with an uncertain future. We don’t hear anymore out of Orpah, and we learn later that Ruth’s great grandson is King David. I believe God is calling us to live out our faith like Ruth. It’s time for us to make Him the number one priority in our life to the point we forsake all other things. We must learn to take up our cross daily, nail our own way of living to it and follow wherever He leads. If we’re going to turn this world upside down with the Gospel the way the apostles did, we’re going to have to quit being casual Christians. To make an impact, we must be totally and completely sold out to Him in how we live, love and act seven days a week. Jesus can’t just be our priority on Sunday.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

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