Think Differently

Several years ago, Apple was floundering as a company. They had lost their soul and direction. They decided to bring Steve Jobs back as the CEO to see if he could turn it around. One of the things he did after revamping their product line was to change advertising agencies. The agency that won pitched him the idea of the now famous “Think Different” campaign. The commercial showed different geniuses from history with a voice that started off, “There are people who see the world differently. They see things in new ways.” While the commercial went on to advertise Apple, it reminds me that you and I as Christians are called to think differently.

Proverbs 23:7 tells that our thoughts determine who we are. We must then learn how to control them or at least stop the negative thoughts that lie to us. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us that we must bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. We can’t just allow idle thoughts or negative thoughts to float around in our heads. We must capture them and change them. It’s easier said than done, I know, but it starts with challenging the thoughts that don’t line up with what God says. When those thoughts come in, you counter with who God says you are and what He’s promised to us as believers. God knows that one way to change our lives is through changing our thoughts.

Isaiah 8:11 says, “The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does” (NLT). Why would God do that? Because we are called to be and live differently than the world. We are to be set apart and to see the world in a different way. We are to change culture rather than to be a reflection of it. The only way to do that is to think differently and to see the world as God does. He transforms us by the renewing of our thoughts and in turn, we transform the world. Don’t get caught up today thinking and seeing the world the way others do. Pray and ask God to change how you think and see so that it reflects how He thinks and sees. In turn, you’ll begin to fulfill your purpose and help others along the way.

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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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Seasoning The World

I read an article a few years ago about a guy who went through the drive through at a Chick-fil-A in Abilene, Texas. When he picked up his order at the window, he handed the cashier ten $100 bills. The employee was shocked. They had seen people pay it forward before, but never like this. She asked him why he was doing it. He replied, “Monday’s are tough, and I want everyone to have a good day.” Because he paid it forward, they were able to give 88 customers prepaid food. Some people cried because of the blessing. Their day had been rough and this gesture turned it around. One act of blessing made a world of difference in people’s lives.

In Matthew 14, John the Baptist had been killed. Jesus wanted to be alone to mourn His cousin, but people followed Him. Instead of getting mad, He healed their sick and taught them truths. All day long, the crowd grew until there were thousands. By evening, the disciples were ready to disperse the crowd to send them away to eat. Jesus told them to feed the crowd. They knew it would cost more money and food than they had. They looked around and found a boy with fives loaves and two fish. Jesus blessed them, broke them and had the disciples serve them. After feeding the crowd with it, Jesus had the disciples go pick up the leftovers so nothing would be wasted. Over 5,000 people were blessed that day by the boy’s generosity.

In Matthew 5:13 Jesus said, “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage” (MSG). Each day we have several opportunities to eave a good taste in their mouth about Godard Christians. You may not have a $1,000 to give, but you have something. God can take whatever you’re willing to give and multiply it in someone’s life in order to bless them. It can be words of life, lunch or anything God puts on your heart. We have to quit thinking about what we don’t have and think about the interaction and how they will see God through us. Go out today looking to bring out the God-flavors in this world. You never know what miracle you will see or what impact it will have.

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Building Project

Many times in the New Testament Paul refers to us as buildings, while Peter says we are Living Stones with Jesus as the Chief Cornerstone. We are both buildings under construction and builders. Jude 1:20 says, “But you, my friends, keep on building yourselves up on your most sacred faith. Pray in the power of the Holy Spirit” (GNT). We must be edifying ourselves daily building up our faith and ourselves. We cannot afford negative self talk that tears down what God is trying to get us to build. Shame, self loathing and self condemnation have no place in our minds. We must be working to build ourselves up through the Holy Spirit.

We are also to help each other in this construction project. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing” (NLT). How do speak and treat other Christians? Are your words building up or tearing down? Many times we all get to the point where we need help from the Body of Christ. We need someone else to lift us up, carry the load and to speak life into us. There are believers you know who need you to build them up today. They need a verse that God put on your heart to share, a kind word or a note that says you’re praying for them. Don’t be afraid to reach out and help someone in their building process.

Finally, we’re to allow God room on our job site. Acts 20:32 says, “And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.” Take time to read God’s Word and to pray inviting God to build on His Son in your life. He uses the best materials and knows just what you need. Make sure He is involved in the day to day operations of your life. We’re all under construction and need His input and help in our life. Remember that unless the Lord builds the house, we labor in vain (Psalm 127:1). Give Him free access to do what He needs to do and your life will be built according to the blueprints He has for you.

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The Gatekeeper Mentality

If you’ve ever had to do cold calling for sales, you know that step one is to try to get past the gatekeeper. The person who answers the phone at a business has the job of making sure only good calls get through. They try to protect the boss from as many sales calls as possible in order to protect their time. The disciples fell into this type of thinking when it came to Jesus. When the little children wanted to see Him, they tried to prevent it. I’m sure there were thousands who wanted to get close to Him, so they adopted a gatekeeper mentality.

In Luke 18:35-43, Jesus was about to walk into Jericho. The disciples and a huge crowd were around Him. A blind man heard the commotion and called out to Jesus. The crowd tried to hush him, but he got louder. Finally Jesus heard him and asked him what he wanted. He said, “Lord, I want to see!” (NLT) Jesus healed him and then went into Jericho going throughout the town. As he passed down one street, there was another man who wanted to see, but he couldn’t because of the crowd. Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus. When Jesus saw him, He offered to go to his house. The same crowd of Jesus’ followers was displeased and let Jesus know it. Zacchaeus wasn’t worthy of Jesus’ time or grace in their eyes.

Jesus responded in Luke 19:9-10, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” It was a reminder to them and to us that we are not His gatekeepers. Our job isn’t to keep people from Him, but to lead them to Him. We must lose the mentality that sees people as unworthy or beyond His grace. We all have a need for it and He died so that none would perish. Just because someone sins differently than you, it doesn’t disqualify them from the forgiveness He offers. We need to lose the gatekeeper mentality and usher as many people as we can to Him.

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Set Your Mind

I enjoy watching competition shows like America’s Got Talent. When magicians come on, I try to keep my eyes on their hands knowing they rely on distractions to do some of their tricks. Sometimes I even watch it in slow motion trying to see how they pull off these tricks. Even with my utmost concentration, I still miss it at times. I think that’s why the Bible tells us so many time to set our mind and to fix our thoughts. God knows our enemy is great at slight of hand and distraction. He’s trying to get our minds off of the truth in order to fall for his shell game. When we take our mind off of heavenly things, we can fall for temptation, lose trust in God and make wrong choices. It’s critical that you and I set our minds on the truth of God’s Word.

Here are some Bible verses on setting your mind.

1. Brothers and sisters, do not be children [immature, childlike] in your thinking; be infants in [matters of] evil [completely innocent and inexperienced], but in your minds be mature [adults].

1 Corinthians 14:20 AMP

2. For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose].

Romans 8:5 AMP

3. Keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.

Philippians 4:8 TPT

4. So then, have your minds ready for action. Keep alert and set your hope completely on the blessing which will be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Peter 1:13 GNT

5. Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value].

Colossians 3:2 AMP

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Passing The Test

Whenever I was in school, I remember one teacher who enjoyed giving tests. He would wear a “test tie” on the days he was giving a test, which was really an uncoordinated, loud tie. Sometimes he would wear a red contact lens. Once he opened a bag of chips and started eating them and crinkling the bag during the test. Whenever he gave tests, I made sure I studied because I knew there would be distractions and the test would be more difficult than the other classes. I used flash cards and met with other students to prepare to make sure we passed.

It’s funny that we spend so much time preparing for school tests, but very little time preparing for life’s test. God had so much faith in Job’s ability to pass any test that Satan could give him that he agreed to allow him to be sent through the wringer. Satan even tried to get in his head to distract him with his wife and friends who constantly accused him of wrongdoing. However, Job was prepped for the test, In Job 23:10-11 he says, “But he (God) knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside.”

Job put something inside of him that was greater than any test he would face: God’s Word and a determination to stay on God’s Paths. When life tests us and we aren’t prepared, we may be like Job’s wife and friends who wanted to curse God and die. But if we will determine in our hearts to stick with God and trust what He’s doing in our life, we will pass any test that comes our way no matter how many distractions there are. God has enough faith in you to allow you to be tested. It’s time you trusted your faith in what you’ve been taught so you will pass this test.

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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 God’s Lead

Driving through Houston can be complicated. I had a customer once call me to tell me where they were on their way to training. I told them it should only take about ten more minutes to get to the location. After 20 minutes past, I wondered where they were. After 30 minutes I began to worry. When they finally arrived, I asked what happened. They had tried to drive to me without their GPS, started talking and missed the sign that had the exit they were supposed to take. Instead of coming right to me, they ended up passing me, but then took the loop around instead of making a U-Turn. They got caught in traffic, but eventually made their way to me.

Life can be complicated too. God has a purpose and a plan for each of us. He’s given us to Holy Spirit to be our GPS to guide and direct us, but we don’t always listen to Him. He’s also put up sign posts in our lives to help us know where to go, but sometimes we’re too distracted to see them. As a result, most of us take the long hard road to get to where He’s trying to lead us. We think we know better than the Holy Spirit’s GPS, so we keep going when He’s trying to help us avoid traffic and distractions. He has cleared the way for us, but we must learn to follow His leading.

After King Solomon prayed for wisdom, he built the Temple that God had told his father he would build. While dedicating it in 1 Kings 8, he prayed, addressed the people there then blessed them. In verse 58, he blessed them said, “May he (God) keep us centered and devoted to him, following the life path he has cleared, watching the signposts, walking at the pace and rhythms he laid down for our ancestors” (MSG). I pray today that God will keep you centered in the chaos around you. That He would give you direction with the decisions you are having to make. That He would keep you alert so you can see the signposts He’s put in your path. Also that you would be able to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice above all the noise, and that you would have the wisdom and courage to follow where He leads.

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A Life Of Love

Several years ago I was attending the Catalyst conference. Bob Goff was one of the speakers. When he finished his part, he gave each of us a copy of his book “Love Does”. It’s a collection of stories from his life where he decided to love people and say yes to their requests. It turns out when you look at each interaction as God opening a door for you, you’ll live an adventurous life. Because God loves people, Bob loves people. In this book he shares some incredible ways he has shown love to others and the impact it has had on them. I laughed out loud throughout the book. I also was brought to tears several times. Most importantly, it challenged me to dig deeper to find ways to show love.

If you’ve ever been to a wedding, you’ve probably heard 1 Corinthians 13 read. However, Paul didn’t write that chapter for married couples. He wrote it to believers on the importance of loving your neighbor in the context of spiritual gifts. Verse 1 reads, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love [for others growing out of God’s love for me], then I have become only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal [just an annoying distraction]” (AMP). God has given each of us spiritual gifts to edify and to love. Our world needs us to love them the way God loves them. Instead we’re guilty of seeing our differences and allowing those to divide us. We need to remember verse 5. It says, “It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured.” Loving others God’s way looks like this.

In John 13:34, Jesus says, “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another.” The word for love that Jesus and Paul used in these is agape. This word isn’t referring to a love based out of emotion. It a love that does things for the benefit of another person while seeking the best for them regardless of you you feel. That’s the kind of love God calls you and I to. If we can’t or won’t love others extraordinarily with that kind of love, Paul said our lives will sound like a clanging cymbal causing a distraction rather than a sweet sound that brings music to people’s ears. Jesus didn’t ask us to live this way. He commanded it. There’s a difference there, and if we want to make a difference, it starts with living a life of love.

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If you’d like to read my thoughts on “Love Does”, I wrote about it here.

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The Least Obvious

Years ago I hired the most unlikely candidate for the position I had open. Everyone else walked through my office door with a suit on, a resume in hand and a plan of action. He walked in empty handed wearing some slacks and a button down. Everyone else sat up straight, looked me in the eye and gave confident answers. This gentleman sat with his knees wide open, with his head resting on his hand and elbow on his knee. I don’t think he looked me in the eye once. When it came time to hire, i couldn’t get him off my mind. He had the wrong appearance, but he had the right attitude and answers. The things he lacked were easily coachable. I hired him and years later he went on to be very successful in the company.

Jesus didn’t pick the obvious choices either to be His disciples. Instead of going into the Temple to find disciples, He went into the villages. Instead of looking for the most educated, He chose the least educated. Instead of choosing the religious people, He chose some blue collar guys and a couple of societal outcasts. His choices made people questions His Messiahship. Jesus, like His Heavenly Father, was looking at the intangibles. He was looking at the heart of people. It turns out that the disciples He chose turned the world upside down with His message and even gave their lives for Him. I’m not sure that would have happened if He went with the obvious choices.

2 Thessalonians 1:11 says, “So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do” (NLT). God has chosen and called you, yes YOU! You may feel unqualified and unable to do anything for Him, but He sees beyond our inabilities and insecurities. He looks into our heart and gives us the ability to step into our calling. The time for excuses is over. The time for stalling is done. He is the one who makes you worthy of your calling even if you feel like the least likely choice for it. He has a history of changing lives, and the world, with the least obvious people. You are empowered and commissioned. Step into it by faith and He will give you the strength to do all He prompts you to do.

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Remembering God’s Faithfulness

Nothing makes you forget the past like the present. The Old Testament shows how we as humans go through cycles of seeing God do something amazing, allowing it to change us, facing something new, forgetting what God has done then panicking. Over time, we tend to forget all that God has done and brought us through. God gave instructions to the Israelites to do different things in order to remember what He did. When we remember, we have faith in Him to do it again. When we forget, our problems seem insurmountable. God will not abandon you. He has a history of meeting whatever you’re facing head on and beating it. Don’t let your present cause you to forget God’s faithfulness. Remember today what He’s done for you in the past.

Here are some Bible verses on remembering God’s faithfulness.

1. You shall not be afraid of them; you shall remember [with confidence] what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt.

Deuteronomy 7:18 AMP

2. Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.

Isaiah 46:9 ESV

3. Remember the wonders he has performed, his miracles, and the rulings he has given.

Psalms 105:5 NLT

4. I remember the glorious miracles of days gone by, and I often think of all the wonders of old.

Psalms 143:5 TPT

5. Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.

Lamentations 3:21, 23 GNT

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