Never Forget

I love days like today. All across social media there will be posts remembering the attacks of September 11. People I’ll tell you that they remember where they were, how the felt and what they thought. After the attacks, you began to see people write, “Never forget.” Were nearly 20 years removed from that day, and here we are holding true to that promise to remember the lives lost, the nation coming together and how we pushed through. That’s why we want to remember isn’t it? We need to remind ourselves that we can make it through anything that comes our way. We did it in the past, so we can still do it today. It’s good to remember days like September 11th, but it’s also good to remember the things of God.

All throughout Scripture, we are told to remember things. The Israelites put up 12 stones where they crossed the Jordan River to remember the Lord’s goodness and how He brought them out of Egypt. They never wanted to forget and they wanted to let their kids know too. When we forget what God has done, we begin to devalue the role He plays in our lives. I recommend creating something to help you remember what He brought you out of, delivered you from or healed you of. Our minds tend to forget things unless we keep remembering them. When we bring things back up, it tells the brain this is important so it stores it where you can access it. As you you remember September 11th today, take time to remember what God has done for you too. He’s been faithful in the past, and He will be faithful in the future.

Here are some Bible verses on remembering.

1. Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him. Remember the wonders he has performed, his miracles, and the rulings he has given.

1 Chronicles 16:11-12 NLT

2. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate and thoughtfully focus on You in the night watches, For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings [where I am always protected] I sing for joy.

Psalms 63:6-7 AMP

3. Remember to stay alert and hold firmly to all that you believe. Be mighty and full of courage. Let love and kindness be the motivation behind all that you do.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 TPT

4. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way.

Proverbs 3:5-6 GNT

5. I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember— the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

GOD ’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with GOD (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.

Lamentations 3:19-24 MSG

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Selfless Love

Several years ago, I took my first trip to Haiti with coreluv.org. One of the things we did was to go to a very poor part of town to feed some children whose parents didn’t have enough money to feed them. I’ll never forget this little girl who couldn’t have been more than five years old. She had her baby brother with her who was around a year old. She took her food and began to feed him. This plate, with a small mixture of rice, beans, and pasta, was all she would get to eat until the next day. Instead of scarfing it down, she took care of her baby brother first.

I have worked with kids my whole life, and I can’t think of any other kid who acted so selflessly. Her mom wasn’t standing there telling her what to do. She did it out of love while starving. I was broken in that moment. I grabbed another plate, put a couple of spoons of rice on it, and grabbed her brother to feed him so she could eat as much as she wanted. After her brother ate, he fell asleep in my arms, and I began to reflect on what I witnessed.

In Philippians 2, Paul starts out asking if God’s love has made a difference in our lives. He then says, in verses 3-4, that if it has, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had” (NLT). This little girl in Haiti exemplified who we are supposed to be as Christians.

If you and I could act as selflessly as this little girl, the world would stop and take notice. I’ve read many stories where Christians have acted selflessly and won entire villages and towns to Christ. If we are going to be called by His name, we should be trying to have His attitude in our lives. Do something today that puts someone else’s needs above your own. Bless them selflessly, putting their needs ahead of yours, and then tell them God loves them. We become more like Jesus one selfless act of love at a time.

Me with the baby boy as he fell asleep

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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Preparing To Help Others

Several years ago I got a group of people together online who were going through difficult times. My plan was to meet with them each day for 30 days to provide them with encouragement from God’s Word as I shared the struggle I had made it through. I think we were about a week into it when one of the participants messaged me and said, “We get it that you made it through. What we need to know is how you made it through.” It was an aha moment for me as a writer, but as I went to answer her, I realized I hadn’t stopped to consider the steps I had taken to survive. The group quickly fizzled out because I didn’t have that answer. I wanted to help them, but just because I had walked where they were walking didn’t help them much. It gave them hope that they could survive, but still left them without a roadmap out.

There are several books of the Bible that share with us the struggles that David went through. He waited nearly 15 years from the time he was anointed king to becoming king, he ran from Saul, faced a coup from his son, sinned against God and so much more. His life was not perfect and he went through a lot. Reading about those things is inspiring, but it’s the Psalms that draw us in because they are the roadmap. They share how he survived those trials and consequences. He writes out where he put his hope, how he trusted God and that he needed a new heart. They speak to us more than the stories because as we go through difficulties, we need practical information of how to get through things.

2 Corinthians 1:4 says, “He helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God” (GNT). If you’ve made it through troubled times, think about how you made it through so you can help those who will go through something similar later. If you’re going through hard times now, keep a journal. It may be the key that helps someone else later. Your trials are not without purpose. Yes, they help purify you and strengthen you, but they’re also so that you can help someone else later. God helps us through difficult times, but there are practical things you’re doing or have done that other will need to know. Don’t get stuck without an answer like I was. Be prepared to help with a roadmap when the time comes.

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Making Disciples

For more than a decade I have been a corporate trainer. Companies hire me to help change behaviors, change results, increase productivity, to understand new concepts and to change culture. Training has that ability because it addresses the behaviors that change results. Studies have shown that untrained employees take six times longer to understand and perform a task than ones who receive training. During that time, an employee can get frustrated and leave. Also, if a company doesn’t train en employee, the employees don’t feel valued. If the co any isn’t willing to invest in their future and their success, why should they stay? Training is a very important part in helping people reach their potential.

I tell you all of that because I read the Great Commission with new eyes. Look carefully at what it says. Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (AMP). He didn’t say, “Go therefore and make Christians.” He didn’t even say, “Go therefore and make Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Charismatics or whichever denomination you belong to.” He said, “Go therefore and make disciples.” A disciple is a student that needs to be trained. Jesus asked us to make disciples instead of Christians because you and I have the ability to teach and to train, but we do not have the ability to save. Only He does.

He asked us to help them to learn of Him. In order to do this, you must know about Jesus and read the Bible yourself. A teacher or trainer has to know and understand the material before they teach the pupil. Jesus next told us to teach people how to believe in Him. Your testimony is vital in this part of making a disciple. If you’ve accepted Jesus, your life has been changed. Share with others how it has changed so they can believe. Finally, He said train them on how to obey His words. Application is key to any training. Disciples need to understand how to apply God’s Word. Showing someone how to apply a principle changes behaviors that in turn change results. We’re called to change this world through making disciples who can then repeat this process. Who are you discipling right now? We’re all part of the Great Commission and have a responsibility to make disciples.

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Holy, Flawless and Restored

We are own worst critics. Like me, you can probably point to everything that’s wrong with you.we know our own faults and failures. We know why God should never use us. To demonstrate this, I used to do a lesson with a group of teenagers I taught at church. I would take a piece of plain white paper, scribble in the middle of it and ask what they saw. Like clockwork, they treated it like a blob test. They called out everything under the sun of what they thought they saw. I then asked why no one said, “A paper,” or “A lot of unused space.” We tend to focus on the mess ups instead of the whole, then we disqualify ourselves. In fact, you probably just thought, “But you don’t know how bad I’ve messed up.” You’re right, I don’t, but then again, it doesn’t matter when it’s been forgiven.

When I read the Bible, I love to look at the heroes of faith. There are many people I’ve idolized in the Bible and wished I was more like them. I wish I had the same heart as David, and his courage too. I wish I had the boldness of Paul along with his tenacity. I look at Peter and wonder if I would have had the faith to get out of the boat. On and on it goes, but when I really examine their lives, I find that the heroes of the faith have messed up more than I ever have so far. David committed adultery and killed her husband to cover it up, yet God still kept him on the throne and used him. Paul spent a lifetime killing Christians before he became one. Jesus once called Peter, “Satan” because of his attitude. The list goes on as you look at all these great leaders. If they weren’t disqualified, then neither are we.

The reason is that when God looks at us, He doesn’t see our past sins like we do. Instead, He sees His Son. Colossians 1:22 says, “And now there is nothing between you and Father God, for he sees you as holy, flawless, and restored” (TPT). When God has forgiven you, He restores you. He makes you holy even though you don’t feel holy. In His eyes, you are flawless because you are covered by the righteousness of His Son. There is no sin you’ve ever committed that is stronger than His blood, so there is nothing you have done that will ever make Him see you other than holy, flawless and restored. It’s time we began to change the focus of how we see ourselves so that we begin to see what God sees when we look in the mirror. Look at yourself and say, “Through Jesus, I am holy, flawless and restored.” Say it over and over until you believe it because God already does.

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Change Your Expectations

From the time my son was born, he has been allergic to milk, gluten and eggs. The problem was that we didn’t know it. For years he would hold his ears in the bathroom because a flushing toilet made him scream. At restaurants, we had to eat while watching for if the servers were gathering to sing happy birthday because that would make him cry and scream. Then a couple of years ago, my wife’s uncle asked if we liked living that way. Assuring him we didn’t, he asked for our son, laid hands on him and prayed for healing. After the prayer, my son asked if he was healed. We asked him if he thought he was. He said yes. We then asked for a glass of milk. He drank the milk and proclaimed he was healed. Either we expected God to heal him or we didn’t. Giving him milk said we trusted God for the healing.

Faith is about expectations. What do you expect God to do? Do you expect to hear from God? Are you expecting the miracle you need? I’ve always heard that expectations determine outcomes. When Jesus healed people, He would ask them to go show themselves to the priest. When Namaan needed healing, he had to dip seven times. On the sixth he still had leprosy, but he dipped the seventh. We need to pray with expectation. We need to read God’s Word with expectation. We need to go to church with expectation. Our faith produces little because we’re expecting little. Change your expectations and you will change your life.

By the way, we had my son get an allergy test that showed he was off the charts allergic to milk, gluten and eggs. After we prayed and gave him milk, we took him to be tested again. All three showed up at zero allergies.

Here are some Bible verses on expecting from God.

1. Be strong and let your hearts take courage, All you who wait for and confidently expect the LORD.

Psalms 31:24 AMP

2. Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up. Expect GOD to get here soon.

Psalm 31:24 MSG

3. Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see.

Hebrews 11:1 GW

4. Wait for and confidently expect the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the LORD.

Psalms 27:14 AMP

5. Then Jesus put his hands over their eyes and said, “You will have what your faith expects!”

Matthew 9:29 TPT

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Defeating Your Past

Do you ever feel like your faults, failures and past sins disqualify you from being used by God? Sometimes those voices that tell me those things get so overpowering that I start to believe it. My past comes back to remind me to stay grounded while God has called me to fly. They weigh me down like I’m attached to an anchor. They tell me, “Because you did this, God can never do that in your life.” It’s hard to hear anything else sometimes.

When those voices get too loud in my mind, there’s two verses I go back to. The first one is Psalm 65:3. It says, “Our faults defeat us, but you forgive them” (GNT). I use this verse to remind me that my past has been forgiven, and that there is no condemnation for those in Christ. The voices that tell me what God can’t do are not from God. When He forgives, He forgets. He uses those faults and failures as my qualifications to do what He called me to do.

The other verse I go to is Romans 11:29. It says, “For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn” (NLT). No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, God still has a plan for your life. He still has a calling that only you can fulfill. He knew your future when He called you. He understood that you wouldn’t be able to live a perfect life so He built it into the plan for you. He doesn’t withdrawal His calling because of our past.

It’s easy to look at someone else and think, “They’re better qualified to do what I’m called to do,” but that’s not how God works. He created you with a purpose and a calling that only you can fulfill. It’s time to quit listening to the voices that tell us we can’t, and start listening to the only voice that matters. It’s not too late. You haven’t gone too far. God’s calling is still valid and you have work to do. Push out the voices that tell you why you can’t, and tell God, “Here am I. Use me.” God hasn’t withdrawn His calling it purpose from your life.

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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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Finding Shelter

Growing up on the Gulf Coast, you’re taught what to do in case of tornados or hurricanes. When they’re approaching, the news will tell everyone to find shelter. The shelter you choose matters. Is it strong enough to withstand high winds? Is it high enough that it won’t flood? Does it have interior rooms with no windows? When a storm is bearing down on you, your safety depends on where you shelter. No matter what though, there are always those who choose to run into the storm rather than to shelter. The news will show people at the beach trying to surf in the waves or who want to wait as long as they possibly can before the full force of the storm arrives. Most people evacuate and look for shelter though.

Where do you go when the storms of life come? I’ve tried to weather them without help and have lost everything. I’ve also learned to find my shelter in God who is unmovable. When you have an emergency in the US, you dial 9-1-1 to get help. When you’re facing one of life’s storms, I recommend Psalm 91:1. It says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand]” (AMP). God offers us shelter from our storms. Merriam Webster defines shelter as something that covers or affords protection. That’s what God offers us, but we must choose to run to Him in those times.

He also says we can rest in His shadow. Have you ever been in someone’s shadow literally? In order to do that, you have to be pretty close to them. God is inviting us to not just run to Him when we need protection. He’s asking us to draw near to Him and to dwell, or live, in the shelter He provides. Does that mean you won’t face storms or feel their effects? No, but it does mean you will have protection that won’t fail when you need it most. God will be your 9-1-1, but He desires for each one of us to live in His presence and to talk with Him daily. He’s not just our emergency relief. He’s our daily bread if we will choose to draw close to Him. When we do that, we can proclaim, p “He is my refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust [with great confidence, and on whom I rely]!” (Psalm 91:2)

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Productive Preparation

I’m normally a person who goes above and beyond what’s asked of me. I like to say, “If it has my name on it, it has to be excellent because I represent more than myself.” However, sometimes i don’t give my best effort if I don’t understand the purpose of what’s being asked of me or feel like it’s not a productive use of my time. Several years ago my wife asked me to take the remote control to the cable company to exchange it. I had never noticed a problem with it, but i went anyway. When I arrived, I grabbed the remote to go in and it lit up. I thought, “What am i going to tell these people as to why i need a new one? It looks like it works.” So I took it back home. A few days later when it acted up on me, I had to admit I didn’t return it.

There are a lot of things we do in life that may feel pointless. There’s times when God puts in on our heart to do something for others that doesn’t make sense. In fact, a lot of what it takes to live out our faith daily can be exhausting or feel unproductive. We don’t always see the point. That should never stop us from being obedient to what God asks. In 2 Kings 3, the two kings of Israel and Judah decided to attack Moab. They took the desert road to remain undetected. The men were thirsty and about to die. They called on Elisha who told them to dig trenches all night. He then said, “For thus says the LORD, ‘You will not see wind or rain, yet that valley will be filled with water, so you and your cattle and your other animals may drink” (AMP). The next morning they woke up to water in the trenches and were victorious in battle.

They didn’t understand God’s reasons. They were exhausted, yet they did what was asked and God rewarded them. That principle holds true for us. 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose].” You may not understand why God wants you to do something, but do it anyway. You may feel exhausted and not up to it, but do it anyway. You may feel like it’s a waste of time, effort and energy, but do it anyway. Nothing you do for God is wasted or unproductive. God is working behind the scenes on your behalf and your blind obedience is often the preparation for a miracle.

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Focusing On Eternity

We recently cleaned out our garage. I threw a lot of things away that I had held onto for years. I kept thinking, “At some point, I valued these things enough to spend money on them. Then later, I valued them enough to store them.” The next week, my mother in law did the same thing. I helped her throw away a couple of truck loads. On the road, she said, “It’s better for me to do this now. I don’t want my kids having to go through all this one day when I die.” We spend a lifetime working so we can buy things, most of which devalue over time. Then what? Someone has to go through them and determine whether to keep them, donate them or throw them away. Did what we mattered to us in this lifetime matter for eternity?

The psalmist who wrote Psalm 39 started thinking about the end of their life. In verse 6, they wrote, “We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it” (NLT). They stated wondering if what they had been pursuing had been worth it. If you back up a couple of verses, they prayed, “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is.” What a great prayer. We forget that this life isn’t all there is. We spend so much time in this life preparing for it, trying to live well and live as comfortably as possible that we forget to think about eternity. It’s like the couple getting married spending all their time preparing for a wedding when they should be preparing for a marriage.

What are you preparing for in this life? Are you keeping eternity in focus? I admit that it’s hard to do. The pressures of this life are so real and present that I spend a lot of time thinking about them. It was the daily pressures that got this psalmist to turn their attention to eternity though. Are we allowing the pressures of the temporary things to take our mind off of the eternal? Are we spending too much time and money on things that others will throw away or donate? I used to have a small poem up that said, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” It was my daily reminder to pursue the eternal things and to not get so caught up in the affairs of this life that I fail to prepare for the next. Where is your focus today? What’s distracting you from looking at eternity? It’s good to ask God to remind you how brief this life is.

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