Joined Together

I’ve always loved that we are described as being the Body of Christ. Each of us have a role to play that’s different from the other. One of the things we must learn is to focus on our part and quit trying to tell the other parts to act and do things like us. We all have different functions and purposes that reach certain people. I believe we can work together despite our differences. I’ve seen it done in a church I was on staff at. We had over twenty denominations and fifty nationalities who functioned together as one church under one pastor. It was an incredible experience where we learned from each other, respected each other and worked together under our common bond. We have more in common than we do differences. Let’s focus on that and on doing our part in the Body of Christ and let Him be the head.

Here are some Bible verses on being in the Body of Christ.

1. Under his control all the different parts of the body fit together, and the whole body is held together by every joint with which it is provided. So when each separate part works as it should, the whole body grows and builds itself up through love.

Ephesians 4:16 GNT

2. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

1 Corinthians 12:27 NLT

3. For no one ever hated his own body, but [instead] he nourishes and protects and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members (parts) of His body.

Ephesians 5:29-30 AMP

4. Let your heart be always guided by the peace of the Anointed One, who called you to peace as part of his one body. And always be thankful.

Colossians 3:15 TPT

5. In the same way, though we are many, we are one body in union with Christ, and we are all joined to each other as different parts of one body.

Romans 12:5 GNT

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Getting In God’s Face

My son is competitive like most kids. He wants to be first everywhere we go. The problem is that he doesn’t always know where we are going. Sometimes when he gets a few steps ahead, I turn and he keeps going straight. I’ll usually make a noise to let him notice. He then runs over and tries to stay in front. With each turn, I remind him that I’m the one who knows where we are going, and that he should follow.

There are other times when he’s just trying to keep my attention. If I’m trying to do something, he’ll get in my face. If I direct my attention elsewhere, he moves to try to stay in my face. Sometimes it makes me laugh how hard he tries to get and keep my attention. The truth is that it’s a picture of how we are to be with God. Sometimes we forget to be like children, which is what Jesus told us to be like.

I believe God is looking for us to be in His presence. He’s not wanting us to be out in front of Him trying to guess where He’s leading us, and He’s not just wanting us to be somewhere in His vicinity. He wants us to go get in His face, and to be where He is looking. Psalm 116:9 says, “I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth!” (NLT) The Psalmist understood what God desires from each of us, and that is to walk in His presence.

The word “presence” in its original meaning, is the word for face. So to walk in the Lord’s presence is to walk where He’s facing. In order to do that, we need to be constantly looking at Him to make sure we are going the same way He is. We have to spend time in prayer throughout the day constantly grabbing His face and attention. It’s what children who love their parents do. God is not annoyed by us in trying to do this. He is honored when we walk in His presence.

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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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Becoming Better

You can’t have the promises of God without going through the processes of God. Some processes are giving of tithes and offerings. Other processes can be difficult seasons. Those to me are the hardest ones to go through. They’re not as simple as give and it shall be given unto you. Many times these seasons are something God walks us into without asking us. There’s also no time limit to them or clear outcomes. However, when God takes us through these seasons, we can be sure He is with us and will produce something in us that makes us better.

David was a young shepherd when he was anointed king. He at least knew what the promise was before going through the process. For the next 15 years, he would go through more downs than ups. He would be forced to live in caves surrounded by outcasts. He would face many sleepless nights fearing for his life. For a while he even had to live in the country of his enemy. His wife and kids were kidnapped along with the wives and kids of his army. He faced a mutiny after that. After years of struggling, he finally became king. The process changed him from one who could watch a few sheep into one who could lead millions.

Psalms 66:12 says, “You’ve allowed our enemies to prevail against us. We’ve passed through fire and flood, yet in the end you always bring us out better than we were before, saturated with your goodness” (TPT). What God allows to happen in our life is often part of His process. He uses the darkest most painful times to either change us, push us closer to Him or to help us be able to empathize and connect with another person. God is always working in our lives to make us more like Him. When going through the hardest times, we can hold onto Romans 8:28 which reminds us that ALL things work together for our good. Keep going through the process. His promises are on their way.

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Understanding Spiritual Principles

I read recently that you can understand almost every spiritual principle through understanding farming. I grew up hearing that you reap what you sew, but there’s so much more. There’s faith that when you plant it, things are growing where you can’t see. There’s understanding the right soil and the right season to plant in. The list goes on and on. The more I learn and understand the concepts of farming, the better steward I can be with the spiritual realities God has entrusted to me. These concepts were obvious to people until we became a modern society where we get our produce from a store.

Think back to Genesis 3. Adam and Eve took the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. They had access to everything, but they squandered it trying to take a shortcut. What was Adam’s punishment? Verse 17 says, “And he said to the man, ‘You listened to your wife and ate the fruit which I told you not to eat. Because of what you have done, the ground will be under a curse. You will have to work hard all your life to make it produce enough food for you’” (GNT). What if his punishment was really about teaching him and us how to better manage and appreciate spiritual principles? Instead of leaving him in the dark, God created a way to understand Him better through having us work the land.

What lesson has God been trying to teach you? What concept has He been trying to get you to understand. I’m pretty sure you can better understand it through farming. Most of Jesus’ parables were about some form of farming. God wants us to learn more about Him and to understand spiritual realities better so He can entrust more to us. Take some time today to ask God to open your eyes to see what He’s showing you. God wants you and I to grow closer to Him and He’s given us the blueprint. We need to seek better understanding from Him so He can help us to be better stewards of all He’s entrusting to us. Don’t shy away or try to take the easy route. Lean in and learn from Him and His Word.

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Pursue Godliness

You associate names like Bernie Madoff, Jeff Skilling and even Martha Stewart with financial crimes. They are all people like you and me. They were in pursuit of wealth, and they never had enough. All of them resorted to trying to gain more in an unethical manner. It didn’t matter to them how they got it or who they had to hurt, as long as they got it. Their pursuit of money was all that mattered to them. In the end, each of them paid a high price for that. Some people still feel they didn’t pay enough.

In 1 Timothy 6:9, Paul warns Timothy and us, “But those who [are not financially ethical and] crave to get rich [with a compulsive, greedy longing for wealth] fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction [leading to personal misery]” (AMP). He follows this up with the famous verse that tells us the love of money is the root of all evil. But then just after that, he tells us what we should be pursuing. Verse 11 says, “But as for you, O man of God, flee from these things; aim at and pursue righteousness [true goodness, moral conformity to the character of God], godliness [the fear of God], faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness.”

What are you in pursuit of? What are you motivated to get? If it’s money and wealth, ask yourself why. If it’s for the sake of having more, more will never be enough. In Matthew 6:19, Jesus told us not to store up material wealth here. He wasn’t saying you shouldn’t have a savings account. He was reminding us that we need to pursue things that last for eternity because where our treasure is, our heart is, and where our heart is matters. Wealth and money in and of themselves are not evil, but the pursuit of them can be. Instead of spending all of our energies pursuing them, focus on living a life that honors God and pursue the godly traits Paul gave us. You’ll end up with more than enough in eternity.

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Live Your New Life

Spring always reminds me of new life. With new life comes beautiful things. You and I have have been given new life as well. God has forgiven and forgotten your past. He’s separated it as far as the East is from the West. Don’t give space to the enemy who wants to condemn you for your past. You were given a fresh start. A new opportunity to live through the power of the Holy Spirit in you. Keep growing in this new life and bear the fruit of the Spirit. Let your new life be the catalyst for others to find their new life too.

Here are some Bible verses on your new life.

1. Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Because of his great mercy he gave us new life by raising Jesus Christ from death. This fills us with a living hope, and so we look forward to possessing the rich blessings that God keeps for his people. He keeps them for you in heaven, where they cannot decay or spoil or fade away.

1 Peter 1:3-4 GNT

2. Arise [from spiritual depression to a new life], shine [be radiant with the glory and brilliance of the Lord]; for your light has come, And the glory and brilliance of the Lord has risen upon you.

Isaiah 60:1 AMP

3. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.

2 Corinthians 5:15 NLT

4. For since we are permanently grafted into him to experience a death like his, then we are permanently grafted into him to experience a resurrection like his and the new life that it imparts.

Romans 6:5 TPT

5. Your life in Christ makes you strong, and his love comforts you. You have fellowship with the Spirit, and you have kindness and compassion for one another.

Philippians 2:1 GNT

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Using Your Faith

A couple of years ago, I decided I would start working out. After the first workout, I realized there were muscles in my body that hadn’t been used in a while, and there were muscles I didn’t know I had. I was very sore to say the least, but if I was going to get into shape, I needed to exercise and push those muscles. There are a lot of benefits to daily exercise including decreased fat, higher endorphin levels, stronger muscles and better overall health. When you don’t exercise often, you lose stamina, strength and will become weak.

To me, faith is like a muscle. You and I must exercise it often if we want to reap the benefits of it. To say you are a person of faith, but never stepping out in faith would be like owning a Bowflex, but never using it. Just having it doesn’t make you stronger or healthier. It takes daily use to reap the benefits of it. So many people buy a Bowflex with the intention of using it, but when they realize it requires constant effort, it often becomes an expensive clothes hanger. You and I can’t live with the intention of using our faith. It’s something we must exercise constantly.

Ephesians 3:17 says, “By constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life” (TPT). Just like there are benefits to exercising, there are greater benefits in exercising your faith. One of those is that the life of Christ will be released in you becoming your source for everything you need. You will begin trusting Him more than what you see, and the peace that passes all understanding will take over your life. Do something today that exercises your faith. It may hurt a little at first, but push through. You’ll be glad you did.

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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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The Knowledge Trap

One of the most important lessons we’re trying to teach our son is to value wisdom over knowledge. We live in a time where knowledge is more accessible than ever. It has become more valuable in our society than wisdom. Because of the, gone are the days of apprenticeship. Gone are the days of seeking wisdom from the elderly. Gone are the days of working your way up a ladder. 1 Corinthians 8:1 warns that knowledge puffs us up. It makes us think we are better than we are.

King Solomon had a son named Rehoboam who acceded the throne after Solomon’s death. The people came to him in 1 Kings 12 to ask him to lighten the work load that Solomon had given them for years. He went to the elderly to seek their advice. In their wisdom , they let him know that the people would be loyal if he did that. However, he spoke to his friends who did not have wisdom. They advised him to prove he was greater than his father and increase their workload. He liked their advice. In turn, the people revolted and the kingdom split. Future generations refused to live under a king from that dynasty.

Proverbs 4:7 says, “Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment” (NLT). Wisdom is often what you get right after you need it. However, it can be gained through seeking advice from the wise, through researching history or by asking God (James 1:5). It’s good to have knowledge, but not if you don’t know how to use it wisely. In all areas of our lives we need to seek the wisdom from above rather than knowledge from the world. Don’t fall for the knowledge trap. As believers it’s critical that we gain wisdom and good judgment. If God puts a high value on wisdom, so should we since we are His representatives in this world.

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Looking On The Inside

In 1 Samuel 15, King Saul chose to listen to the people he was leading rather than God. Because of his continuous disobedience God tore the kingdom from him to give to someone who was better than him. As Samuel mourned for Saul, God told him to go to Bethlehem to anoint a new king from Jesse’s house. When Jesse’s firstborn went in front of Samuel, he looked at his height and build. He immediately thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed.” Then in 1 Samuel 16:7, God replied, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (NLT).

In the next chapter, King Saul and the Israelites are ready for battle with the Philistines when Goliath steps out. He challenged them to a one on one fight to determine the winner of the battle. Looking at his outward appearance and hearing his words, Israel became fearful. For forty days this happened until David showed up. Instead of seeing an intimidating, undefeatable giant, he saw victory through God’s strength. He offered to fight, but people laughed at him. When he went onto the battlefield, even Goliath laughed because he was looking at the outward appearance of things. David won the battle that day because he knew who God was and he stepped onto the battlefield risking everything and giving God the chance to show up.

1 John 4:4 reminders us, “The Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” I don’t know what giant you’re facing or how your situation looks. I do know that God is greater than it and more powerful. It’s time you quit looking on the outside of the situation and started looking inside of you. God does not give you fear. He gives you power (2 Timothy 1:7). If you’re feeling outmatched and overwhelmed with defeat on the horizon for certain, step aside for a minute, pray and remember who is within you. Through Christ Jesus we have victory and nothing we face is too big for Him. Your giant is small and helpless compared to Him. Quit looking on the outside and start looking on the inside.

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Celebrate Freedom

Most countries have some sort of day each year where they honor fallen soldiers. In the United States we have Memorial Day. Whatever country you’re in, this day is not really a day of celebration as many believe. It’s a somber day to stop and honor those who have fallen in battle. It’s a time where we should contemplate the cost of freedom that we enjoy. Many of us live our lives in freedom, but take it for granted. We forget the price that was and is being paid by those who stand up against those who want to take it away.

In a room in Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago, Jesus was having is final meal with His disciples. They didn’t understand the significance of the moment they were in, but they recorded what happened for us. It started off with Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. It wasn’t that much longer that He picked up some unleavened bread, blessed it’s and broke it symbolizing how He was about to be broken for our freedom from sickness. He then passed around the cup of wine for them to drink symbolizing His blood that would be poured out to give freedom from sin.

Luke 22:19 says, “Then he took a piece of bread, gave thanks to God, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in memory of me’” (GMT). As Christians, we celebrate a different kind of Memorial Day each time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. We can’t let it become just a ritual we participate in. We are to remember the price that was paid for our freedom each time we take it. If Jesus has set you free, then you are free indeed and have much to be thankful for each time you participate in Communion. As they say, “Freedom is not free.” Someone paid for you to have it whether physical or spiritual.

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