Tag Archives: bible study on

Intentional Encouragement

Have you ever been around someone who makes you better at something? Or someone who has the gift of encouragement? People like that seem to draw out the best in us. They make us pay attention more, do more and give a better effort. I’ve had a few people like that in my life. Each time you walk away from them you feel like you’re better for just having been with them. I always walk away from those conversations wanting to be like them and praying that God would help me to. I think of the John Maxwell quote where he says that we are either a plus or a minus to everyone we meet. I always want to be a plus, but I’ve learned it takes intentionality to do that.

David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel 18 had the kind of relationship where it was mutually beneficial. From the get go these two were around each other. They were both warriors in their own rights. Johnathan was the kings son and David was a shepherd. Even though they came from different worlds and there was a financial difference, they were still able to add value to each other. Jonathan was willing to give up his place as king for David. They had a serious bond that many of us need in our life. I believe bonds like that start with us believing we have something to bring to the table that’s beneficial to others.

In Romans 1:12, Paul writes to believers, “When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours” (NLT). We all want to be encouraged by someone else, but we need to remember that we have the power to be an encouragement to someone no matter how highly we esteem them because they need encouragement too. Look around you today as you go about your business. As God to open your eyes to see people who need encouragement. Then be bold and intentional about adding value and encouragement to them. Don’t wait for someone to be an encourager to you first. Step out in faith and encourage someone, then watch how you will be encouraged too. You have value that you can add to someone’s life today. Don’t hold back. Give it away like you’re made of it.

Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Your Daily Bread

In Exodus 16, the Israelites were in the desert on the way to the Promised Land. They were tired and hungry, so they began to complain. In verse 4, the Lord said, “Now I am going to cause food to rain down from the sky for all of you. The people must go out every day and gather enough for that day. In this way I can test them to find out if they will follow my instructions” (GNT). For the rest of their time in the wilderness, the people went out every day to get manna from Heaven, taking only what they needed. God did not fail to give them their daily bread, but it was up to them to go get it.

In John 6, Jesus fed the 5,000 with 5 loaves of bread and two fish. Everyone had more than enough to eat. Because it was late, many stayed the night there. That night, the disciples went across the Sea of Galilee, and were hit with a storm. Jesus went to them walking on water. The next morning, the people who had been fed were looking for Jesus. When they found him, they asked for another miracle. Jesus wanted them to trust in Him for the Bread of Life. They were stubborn and brought up that Moses fed the people every day in the wilderness. Then Jesus reminded them it was God who provided the bread, not Moses. He went on to say, “I am the Bread of Life. Come every day to me and you will never be hungry. Believe in me and you will never be thirsty” (TPT).

God cares more for your spiritual condition than your physical one. Yes, He cares and provides for our physical needs, but it’s the eternal needs that matter most. Just like our physical body needs sustenance, so does our spirit. Jesus is inviting you and I to meet with Him daily for the manna He provides for our spirit. We can’t be like the people in the Old and New Testaments who are only looking for the temporary things from God that meet our immediate needs. He wants to give you so much more, but it requires you to set aside time to go get it every day. You wouldn’t neglect your physical hunger, so don’t neglect your spiritual hunger. Jesus is waiting for you with your daily bread right now. Ask Him to feed your spiritual hunger and thirst today, then listen for His voice. Taste and see that the Lord is good today. He is the Bread of Life.

Photo by Tommaso Urli on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Honoring God’s Presence

I take a spiritual growth assessment a couple of times a year to get a snapshot of where I am. It helps me to visualize the different aspects of my disciplines, see where I’m gaining ground and where I’m losing ground. I’ve noticed when certain disciplines, like listening in my prayer time, are low, there are fewer experiences with God. There’s a direct correlation between my listening to His voice and experiencing His power and presence in my life. If I want more of it, I have to make time to listen instead of just talking through that time to Him about my needs. Listening is a great way to honor God’s presence.

In 1 Samuel 3, Eli was the High Priest of Israel. He was their spiritual leader, but the first verse says, “Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon” (NLT). The reason why the messages and visions were rare is because Eli had quit honoring God’s presence. He no longer slept in the tabernacle tending to the candlestick, he allowed his sons to steal God’s offerings and turned a blind eye to their promiscuity. God had enough of it and spoke to Samuel a prophetic message of how He was going to remove Eli and his sons from their positions.

In Matthew 13:57-58 it says, “Then Jesus told them, ‘A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.’ And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief.” Our belief and honor have a lot to do with how much we experience the power of God in our life. If it’s been a while since you’ve heard God’s voice or experienced Him in a real way, take a close examination of your life. Are you honoring Him in all aspects of your life? Have you been relaxed on your spiritual disciplines? When we honor God, He shows up in our life in real ways.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Hard Knocks University

When people ask where I went to school, I often say, “Hard Knocks University.” For the longest time, it seemed that life kept knocking me down. No matter what I did, I couldn’t gain ground. In fact, it felt like the bottom kept falling out from underneath me. I learned that the only way to fail Hard Knocks University is to quit. I also learned that the only way to graduate was to get closer to God. The troubles we face in life can either make us bitter or better. We get to choose by how we respond when we keep getting knocked down.

For me, I let it push me closer to God. I found myself praying more asking God for the wisdom to make better decisions. I also started reading the Bible more. I knew there were principles in it that could help with the things I was facing, so I began to consume the Bible looking for answers. What I got was a deeper relationship with God and the promise that He wouldn’t abandon me in my troubles. I began to put my focus on Him instead of my problems, and then I began telling my problems about Him instead of the other way around.

The Psalmist must have graduated Hard Knocks University too. Psalm 119:71 says, “My troubles turned out for the best – they forced me to learn your textbook” (MSG). If you’re in the toughest school around, let it draw you closer to God and His textbook. He probably won’t take the troubles away as quick as you like, but you are guaranteed that He will walk through them with you. Failure can’t be an option, and you don’t want to keep taking the same course. If you want to graduate, you’re going to have to read the textbook. I recommend you start with a chapter in Proverbs each day to get the wisdom you need.

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Healing Old Wounds

For years I carried a hidden wound inside of me. I pretended that it never happened. Every time that a memory would pop up, i would tell myself, “That never happened. It was just a dream.” I buried it deep to the point that today I struggle remembering if some things really happened. I didn’t know it, but even though I had buried it, it was still affecting my life, my thoughts and my actions. Beneath all the layers I had covered it in, this pain was festering and affecting my relationships, my job and my walk with God. Every once in a while someone would say something or be in a situation that would touch that nerve deep inside me, and it would send me on an emotional roller coaster.

One Sunday we had a man named Dave Roever preach at our church. His face and hands were disfigured from a phosphorus grenade that went off as he was trying to throw it in the Vietnam War. One of the things he said was, “Some of you look like me on the inside.” I was pretty sure he was talking to me. Then a little later he said, “Don’t be afraid to show your scars for in them others will find their healing.” Immediately I knew what I had to do. I felt God ask, “Are you ready to deal with the problem?” So I began uncovering this deep wound layer by layer, exposing it, dealing with it, seeking forgiveness and allowing God to heal it. My life began to change for the better.

Hebrews 12:1 says, “As for us, we have all of these great witnesses who encircle us like clouds. So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into. Then we will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us” (TPT). What wound do you need to let go of?whats hidden deep inside of you that is affecting your life? It’s not easy, but it needs to be opened up, dealt with and healed. Only then can you truly run your race well. God wants to set you free and to heal it, but you have to remove the layers you’ve put over it. Once it’s healed, the scar will remain, but it won’t be as painful. Then, as you share your scar with others, they will find their healing too.

Photo by John Fornander on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Redeemed From The Past

A couple of decades ago, I went through what I somewhat jokingly call halftime in my life. I was born and raised in church and accepted Jesus at an early age. Then in my mid twenties I decided to live in opposition to how I was raised. It didn’t take long for God to work on my heart to bring me back into living His way. During halftime I suffered many consequences for my actions including people telling me I was disqualified from being a minister. As I was lamenting over it to a friend, he reminded me that God doesn’t rescind His calling in our life. He takes our past and uses it to help others.

Paul, who wrote a lot of the New Testament, was raised in the strictest sect of Judaism. His zeal for God’s Law was so strong that he hunted down and killed people he thought were in opposition to his understanding of the Law. Then, in Acts 9, as he was traveling to persecute Christians, Jesus appeared to him and changed his life. As he ministered to people, he referee to himself as the chief of sinners knowing what he had done in the past. However, God was able to use his past to prove to anyone that no matter how much they’ve lived in opposition to God, they are still able to receive God’s grace, find salvation and be used by Him in ministry.

Psalm 139:5 says, “You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. You have laid your hand on me!” (TPT) God is not afraid of your past (or present). He has a plan for your life and is able to use whatever you’ve been through and whatever you’ve don’t to help others find healing and forgiveness in Him. Those things do not disqualify you. Instead, they have prepared you for the future He has got you. You, nor others, have the ability to remove God’s calling or plan for your life. He has prepared your future despite your past. He has laid His hand on you to accomplish His purposes in your life. Leave the guilt and condemnation behind, and follow where He leads.

Photo by Nicholas Barbaros on Unsplash

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Surrendering Completely

One of the things I talk with pastors about is spiritual growth and how to help people along the path. According to “Move: What 1,000 Churches Reveal About Spiritual Growth”, there are four places we find ourselves in when it comes to spiritual growth. They are: Exploring Christ, Growing in Christ, Close to Christ and Christ Centered. There are different habits, behaviors and disciplines of people when they’re in each segment. The goal is to help people move from one segment to the next. The hardest segment to get people to move to is from Close to Christ into Christ Centered. One seeks God’s wisdom and direction for their life along with daily disciplines. The other is complete surrender to God allowing Him control over your life. It’s a hard jump for people to make.

In Mark 1, Jesus had just begun His earthly ministry. He had been baptized and was beginning to preach. As He did, people began to follow Him. There were some people though that He asked to be disciples instead of just followers. In Mark 1:17-18 Jesus saw Andrew and Simon Peter cleaning their nets and said, “‘Come follow me and I will transform you into fishers of men instead of fish!’ Immediately they dropped their nets and left everything behind to follow Jesus” (TPT). These two, along with the other 10 disciples, left everything to give themselves completely to Christ. Most people simply took off of work, listened to Him preach, and then went back to work. These guys dropped what they were doing in complete surrender to follow Him. They gave up everything.

I’m not suggesting that you quit your job to be a Christian and have a better relationship with Christ. I am asking you to examine the things that you’re holding onto that are keeping you from complete surrender to Christ. It could be control of your schedule, your money, your time, your talents, etc. The Rich Young Ruler in Matthew 19 was called to move from Close to Christ into a Christ Centered life. He walked away sad because he wanted to hold onto things. It didn’t mean he wasn’t a Christian. It meant that he didn’t move to a Christ Centered life to experience all God had for him. Like him, we hold onto things that Christ is calling us to let go of. We need to be like Andrew and Simon Peter where we immediately drop those things, leave them behind and surrender to God’s will.

Photo by Andrés Canchón on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Restoring Your Walls

One of the coolest things to see is a city like Jerusalem that still has walls around it. They’re high, thick and wrap completely around the city. You can imagine how formidable the city must have been thousands of years ago to an invading army. Cities had to have walls back then to protect themselves from enemies and nomadic warriors who went around stealing food. The size and strength of the walls were a measurement of their ability to withstand attacks. There are places in the wall around Jerusalem where you can see evidence of attacks on the city and how the wall protected its people.

If you go back a few hundred years before Jesus was born, Israel had been in captivity for about 70 years in Babylon. Cyrus became king of Persia and had it in his heart to rebuild Jerusalem. He sent many Jews back, led by Ezra, to begin the process. After about twenty years, one came back to visit family in Babylon. His brother, Nehemiah asked how it was going. When he told him that the rebuild wasn’t going well, Nehemiah wept, and God put it in his heart to return and rebuild the walls. After he arrived, he went out at night to assess the situation. He called the leaders together. In Nehemiah 2:17 he said, “You see the bad situation that we are in—how Jerusalem is desolate and lies in ruins and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, and let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, so that we will no longer be a disgrace” (AMP).

As Christians, we have an enemy that seeks to steal, kill and destroy what’s important to us. How are the walls in your life that are to protect you from his attacks? Are they in shambles making you vulnerable? It’s time to rebuild them so you can be a strong Christian who is a refuge for others as well. You build them through reading the Word of God that increases your faith as a shield. Remember that Jesus used the Word of God as a wall of defense against Satan when He was tempted. You also need to partner with other believers who will sharpen you. Work together, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to bring healing and restoration in your life in the broken down areas. You will still be attacked, but you will be fortified against it.

Take an assessment of where your walls are broken down, seek God’s help in rebuilding them and begin the work of restoration.

Photo by Arno Smit on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Follow The Leader

Leadership is as important in the Church as it is in business. We need leaders and we need followers. All throughout my life, I have been blessed with great leaders in church. From my early childhood children’s pastors who taught me the foundations of faith, to my junior high teachers who helped me understand the doctrines of the church, to my high school teachers who helped me learn to pray and to memorize Scripture, to my pastors that have kept me grounded in God’s Word. I learned these things from them, but I also watched their lives. They were consistent in living what they professed. That’s what leadership is truly about.

In almost all of those leaders, I remember hearing them repeat 1 Corinthians 11:1 to me and to others. It says, “I want you to pattern your lives after me, just as I pattern mine after Christ” (TPT). The King James I grew up on said, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” As a kid, I remember hearing that as an instruction to look at their lives as a pattern for mine as long as they were living for Christ. It was the openness and honesty that is required of leadership. If they’re not following Christ, it was time to learn from their mistakes and to quit patterning my life after them. It’s always important to remember that church leaders are human just like ourselves. They have the same propensities to sin, and do sin. Leadership isn’t about being perfect, it’s about being real and open. What do they do when they sin? How do they respond to defeat? How do they deal with things when they’re under life’s pressures?

As you go through similar things in your life, look to the lives of the leaders God has placed around you. Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith” (NLT). God has given the Church leaders so we can follow their examples. We are also called to be leaders ourselves. People are watching your life to see your example of faith just as you watch the lives of others. They may never tell you, but they are. It’s important that we keep our eyes on Jesus and not on a person only. He is our ultimate leader that should guide and direct how we live. I’d like to change a famous quote just a little: Lead (preach) at all times. Use words when necessary. Your actions will speak louder than your words ever will. Follow someone whose life lives what they preach, and be a person who does the same.

Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Raising Your Lid

In his book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”, John Maxwell starts with the Law of the Lid. It basically states that your leadership ability determines your leadership effectiveness. There’s a lid on your ability to be an effective leader. The good news is that it’s based on your abilities. Every one of us have unique abilities, and we are able to increase our abilities thereby increasing our effectiveness. The problem most people face is that we get stuck in our ways and become complacent with our level of effectiveness. The choice is up to us to do the work, enroll in classes, read and spend the time and effort it takes to raise our lid. When we do, it exponentially increases our effectiveness.

There’s a spiritual law that works the same way. Our spiritual disciplines determine our spiritual effectiveness. There’s a lid on our ability to be effective Christians. Just like the other lid, it can be raised but it takes efforts on our part. In both of his books to Timothy, Paul was writing to him to help him increase his level of effectiveness. We know 1 Timothy 4:12 where Paul tells him not to let anyone despise his youth, but to instead be an example to all. He was reminding him that age has nothing to do with his ability to be effective. It had everything to do with how we utilized his spiritual gifts and attended to his spiritual disciplines.

2 Timothy 1:6 says, “I’m writing to encourage you to fan into a flame and rekindle the fire of the spiritual gift God imparted to you when I laid my hands upon you” (TPT). There are things we must do to keep the spiritual gifts we’ve been given active and effective. We must fan them, add fuel to them and rekindle them. Our daily spiritual disciplines will do that. When we add fuel to our fire by increasing our knowledge and understanding of Scripture we increase our effectiveness. When we increase our time in prayer, we increase our ability to hear God. When we increase our study and meditation of God’s Word, our lives increase exponentially. If we want to be more effective as believers, we must raise our lid through spiritual disciplines.

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized